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September 17, 2013

What's New!

  • New Book Release!  Today is the official release date of my new book...

    The Emotionally Destructive Marriage:  How to Find Your Voice and Reclaim Your Hope

  • I was honored to receive the American Association of Christian Counselors 2013 Care Givers Award this past week while at the Convention in Nashville.

  • SPECIAL SALE! This week only on "The Emotionally Destructive Marriage" book

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How to Handle Toxic and Critical People


Toxic Person

We all have encounters with difficult people who leave us rattled and shaken. A co-worker undermines us in front of our boss; our friend puts us down and says she was “just kidding”; our spouse rages at us and then turns everything around to make us think that it’s our fault. 

Most of us would prefer to minimize our contact with people like this, but sometimes it’s just not possible. We may work with them, be married to them, or have some other connection that keeps us in regular contact with toxic individuals. For a long time Christians have been taught to forbear and forgive.  While biblical in essence, most of us aren’t exactly sure how to live it out in real life.

We know that Jesus tells us that we’re to love our enemies and pray for those who mistreat us, but actually doing it is much more challenging. The apostle Paul counsels us in these instances not to be overcome with evil, but instead to overcome evil with good (Romans 12:21). Sometimes it feels like evil is stronger, and we struggle not to let it get the best of us.

I’d like to share with you some specific ways I have found helpful to put these Biblical truths into practice when dealing with a toxic or destructive person.

  1. Press Pause:  As soon as you feel that poisonous dart, take a deep breath and pray for God’s help. The words or behaviors of another person have just knocked you off balance and will infect you with its toxic effects if you don’t quickly apply an antidote.
  1. Don’t panic and overreact or be passive and underreact.  Stay calm and don’t fall for their bait. Try not to take what they have done or said personally (which is very tempting to do). Remember, the way someone treats you, whether it be good or bad, really has nothing to do with you. It is a statement about who they are.  
  1. Ask yourself this question:  What in this present moment do I need to learn (or change) in order to become the person I want to become? Here are a few things I have found I needed when I asked myself this question:
  • Courage
  • Humility
  • Generosity
  • To speak the truth in love
  • To set firmer boundaries
  • Patience
  • Not to worry so much what others think of me
  • Let go of my desire to make everyone happy
  • Not to let this person get the best of me or to make me act crazy

Believe me, it is very tempting in the moment to defend yourself, let yourself be blamed for the problem, be totally intimidated and overcome, or strike back with your own attack.  None of those ways will help you move forward with a toxic person. However, God does promise to use these painful moments for our good. Therefore, learn what you can from the painful moment and let go of the rest.

  1. Teach yourself to respond out of the person you want to be rather than how you feel in the moment.  We do this all the time by being responsible and getting out of bed to go to work even when we want to sleep in or getting up in the middle of the night with a sick child even if we don’t feel like it.

    If you must respond in the moment, speak calmly, truthfully and firmly, especially when you have to set a limit or say “no”. Refuse to engage in arguing, defending yourself, or circular conversations that go nowhere.
  1. Practice (and this takes a lot of work) looking at this difficult/destructive person in a different way than you have in the past. Instead of meditating on his or her faults or sin, look for her goodness, his humanness, or his/her woundedness. When we can see a person in this new way, it’s much easier to allow God to fill us with His love and compassion for this pitiful person who would be so blind as to treat us (or anyone) in such a sinful way.

Having this change in perspective doesn’t excuse the toxic person or give him or her license to continue to do damage, but it does help us not to judge and empowers us to forgive him/her, even if we can’t reconcile the relationship. We can honestly pray God’s best for this person and leave him/her in His capable hands.

As believers, we will surely encounter evil, but by practicing these five steps, we can learn to overcome evil’s toxic effects in us with good.

P.S. I want to warmly welcome ALL new subscribers who have joined our community since last month! You are going to love the resources you find to help you grow. I'm thrilled to have you here!

P.P.S. Don't keep this to yourself! Forward this newsletter to your friends and colleagues or send them to www.leslievernick.com so they can register for themselves.

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Leslie Answers Your Questions

Help, I Am Bitter and Angry

Question: I bought your book, The Emotionally Destructive Relationship, and have read many others just like it. I was in a bad marriage. Although not physically abusive, it was verbally abusive. My husband also went out with friends at least twice a week drinking and going to unmentionable places.

I was a stay-at-home homeschool mom. All the advice that I received from my church, prayer partners and friends was to stay–to just submit to my husband as unto Christ. I did this. I can’t even name all the books I’ve read, prayer groups that I went to and counseling that I attended on my own over the years.

My husband ended up leaving me. We sold our house, and he took all the money and left the country. I am now a single mom with a rebellious teenager. I was left without my home or furniture and everything gone. I am even unable to receive any child support since he is out of the country. My church was unable to help with the finances and really did not check up on me.

Now I am very bitter. If I would have divorced earlier, I would not be in such a bad position. Please tell me why the church is so adamant about a woman staying, but then when she’s abandoned and in financial trouble, they don’t really want to get involved.

Answer: I am so sorry for what you’ve been through, both in your marriage and with your church. Sadly, your story is not that unusual. It’s understandable. Women have traditionally been groomed to be passive and defer to other people the power to decide what they should do.

It’s also tempting for those of us who are people helpers to tell those who come to us for help what God says you must do. Our motives are usually good. We want to help. We care. We’re afraid for you and your family, and we want to remain true to God’s Word. Therefore, we all have our opinion on what God says is best for you. However, it is very easy for people to tell other people what to do when they don’t have to live out the consequences of those choices.

A woman or any other person in a destructive marriage must come to see that they do have some important choices to make and they must not totally abdicate that decision to others who are advising them. That does not mean you don’t seek godly counsel or read outside books, but you must do the work to understand what God’s Word says to you about your situation.


Add your (or view other) comments to Leslie's answer to this question by clicking the link below.


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How to Handle Toxic and Critical People


Coaching Spots Available



Take look at the upcoming events to watch for from Leslie.



This week only on "The Emotionally Destructive Marriage" book



The Emotionally Destructive Marriage DVD by Leslie Vernick. Plus see the winner of the previous give away!



Help, I Am Bitter and Angry


For more information on Leslie's coaching program, please click below.

Leslie Vernick Coaching Programs



Book Titled The Emotional Destructive Marriage

The Emotionally Destructive Marriage: How to Find Your Voice and Reclaim Your Hope

Book by Leslie Vernick


Purchase my new book "The Emotionally Destructive Marriage" for only $10 (Retail price is $14.99) plus shipping.

Just enter Coupon Code EDM10 at checkoutOffer expires midnight Saturday, September 21st.



DVD The Emotional Destructive Marriage

The Emotionally Destructive Marriage DVD by Leslie Vernick


Counselors and clients often are too busy to read but need solid teaching in small doses to help them take the next step. These twelve sessions, by Leslie Vernick, will give you clear biblical teaching on navigating wisely through a destructive marriage.

  1. The Emotionally Destructive Marriage
  2. The Difference Between a Difficult, Disappointing and Destructive Marriage
  3. What is Emotional Abuse? When is the Line Crossed?
  4. Freedom–An Essential Ingredient For All Healthy Relationships
  5. Misunderstandings Between Headship and Submission
  6. When Trying Harder Becomes Destructive
  7. Does God Care More About Sex Than Love?
  8. Why Consequences Are An Important Wake-Up Call for Destructive Spouses
  9. What Does It Take to Heal a Destructive Marriage? – Safety
  10. What Does It Take to Heal a Destructive Marriage? – Sanity
  11. What Does It Take to Heal a Destructive Marriage? – Stability
  12. What To Do When There is No Change

To win this DVD, please email your name to assistant@leslievernick.com by midnight Sunday, September 22nd.

The winners of The Emotionally Destructive Marriage: How to Find Your Voice and Reclaim Your Hope by Leslie Vernick are are Sue D. of Livonia, MI and Robin Y. of Milton, WV.



Sep 17 Moody Radio Midday Connection discussing "The Emotionally Destructive Marriage" at 12:00pm CT

Sep 23  Focus on the Family broadcast recording (broadcast date to be announced)

Sep 24  Java with Julie podcast recording (broadcast date to be announced)


Oct 4-5  The Bible Chapel Women's Retreat, McMurray, PA

Oct 12  Healthy Relationships Event, Reeder’s United Methodist Church, Pen Argyl, PA

Oct 21  Liberty University Student Association Healthy Dating Relationships - 6pm

Oct 22  AACC Webinar on “Counseling Strategies That Work for the Emotionally Destructive Marriage” 6 to 8pm


Nov 23  Domestic Violence Conference, First Baptist Church of Glenarden, Glenarden, MD (Open to the Public)

Nov 24  Speaking at Loudoun Bible Church, Leesburg, VA (Morning Service)

Nov 29-Dec 1  Singles Conference at America’s Keswick, Whiting, NJ


Dec 1  Singles Conference at America’s Keswick, Whiting, NJ

Invite Leslie to speak at one of your events.
Call us at 1-877-837-7931
leslie@leslievernick.com or
visit www.leslievernick.com



"You've given me amazing tools. I hear things ring in my head all the time and you've given me so much that I can use as I move forward."

— Kelly K.


Leslie wants to help you grow in your personal and relational effectiveness. Send your questions about dealing with difficult people, stress, or relationship issues to:


Then, visit Leslie's Blog as she posts her responses to one question per week.

Note: Due to the volume of questions that Leslie receives, she is unable to respond to every question.